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Review Suitable Flesh (2023): A pleasant surprise!

genre: lovecraftian, horror

Suitable Flesh was directed by Joe Lynch from a script by Dennis Paoli, which is based on H. P. Lovecraft's "The Thing on the Doorstep". I only found out after I looked up the title to see whether this would be worth my time or not. This being lovecraftian just made everything better, so I was down to dive deep in.

The film starts in a psychiatric hospital with a morgue in the basement. You see this often in Hollywood films. But I am wondering if in reality this is also the case. In any case, just a thought I had. In this morgue, a body has arrived and a doctor Upton (Barbara Crampton) and pathologist are discussing the state of the body. Let's just say that it's in a very bad condition. Who are they talking about? Then the doctor walks up to a seemingly deranged person, her colleague Dr. Derby (Heather Graham), who keeps insisting they cremate the body. Upton who is also her friend wants to make sense of it all and starts to question her. This opts Derby to tell her story, which is when we, the audience, get to witness all the events that had happened prior before she was locked up.

Asa Waite comes to her practice uninvited and literally begs her for help. Derby is very hesitant at first. Then Asa gets a call from someone. This person calls out some spell and Asa starts to contort. After this, Asa's whole demeanour has changed and seemingly, he is a different person now. Of course, Derby is very compelled to help now, and this is when things start to get real bad for her. Part of the fun is wondering what is going on. So I won't go into it. But apart from some cheesy erotic scenes, there is some genuine horror goodness in this. Not surprising since the makers involved are also the ones who were behind Re-Animator and From Beyond. And yes, some of the glorious nastiness is also present in this adaptation. Not going to lie, I had this film in my sights for a while, but because of the cheap feel to it, I was a bit hesitant to watch it. The film certainly is a low budget affair. Still, the makeup and special effects department delivered real good work, and in films like these that is what matters the most next to the story.

It's here where the film fails a little. They make the mistake to emphasize the Dr. Derby and her needs instead of focusing on what is happening to Asa and why it's happening. Perhaps they went with this because of Heather Graham and her attractiveness. I didn't really care for this much. Since it doesn't add that much in the grand scheme of things. If you can overlook this, there is some light terror and dread to be enjoyed. I mean, if you think about it, events are super disturbing. I wished they would have gone deeper into the cause and mythology that is described in the short story, The Thing on the Doorstep, which the film is based on. Perhaps they wanted to keep things simple. 

Overall, for me, Suitable Flesh was a pleasant surprise as it delivered the cosmic horror I crave. Even if they easily could have offered more. 

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